aGLIFF 29 is almost upon us and I have a first look a a couple of the outstanding films that are playing this year. There’s still time to run out and get badges before Thursday’s opening film at the Alamo South Lamar. Check out these previews and I’ll see you there.
Oscar Madly is a teen in denial of his homosexuality after witnessing a gay bashing as a child. While dealing with teenage angst and a broken home life, Oscar meets a handsome young man at his new job. As Oscar’s problems seem to be mounting, he begins a journey of self-discovery and experiment with his sexuality.
Closet Monster dives into some very genuine issues of teenage sexuality coming-of-age issues and approaches many of these experiences with honesty. The plot itself walks over well tread territory for an LGBT film and while not groundbreaking, does offer enough sensuality and raw emotion to make the trek worthwhile. Connor Jessup, as Oscar, does a fantastic job on that note, carrying the films heart with intensity and vulnerability. Look also for the amusing voice cameo from the incomparable Isabella Rossellini.
Jonathan (Jannis Niewöhner) is an EXTREMELY handsome young man (not kidding, he’s got like a German James Dean thing going on) who is helping run his father’s farm. He is also helping his father who is in the end stages of skin cancer. In the midst of these burdens, he has to deal with an ill-tempered aunt and the fact that his family is keeping most of the past secret from him. He’s not allowed to know about his mother who died when he was too young remember. When his father is suddenly hospitalized, a man appears at the farm wanting to see him. The aunt runs the man off with a shot gun and piques Jonathan’s interest, setting in motion the events that will finally reveal the family’s closely guarded truth.
Intriguing, beautiful, and full of secrets, Jonathan is a gorgeous looking film and a captivating mystery all in one. The cinematography brilliantly captures the landscape of Germany from the forests to the seaside. The visual feast alone would make the movie worthwhile but in the midst of this world are richly drawn characters that are ready to explode under the pressure of their shared history. Every minute of the film pulls you in deeper and taunts with the unspoken truth. It is a fantastic family drama and love story that should not be missed.
PARIS 05:59: THEO & HUGO
Theo spots Hugo across the room while visiting a sex club for a late night orgy. Rejecting the advances of others, he slowly makes his way across the sea of men until he is mouth to mouth with this object of his lust. Without words, they form a coupling, ignoring the pulsating bodies on all sides. Obsessed with each other, after they finish they share a drink and then leave together. It’s at this moment in this blossoming romance that one stray comment hits them like figurative brick and sends them careening into unknown territory and emotional chaos.
Saving Private Ryan started with a twenty five minute sequence that revolved around the storming of Utah beach. It was a humongous set piece that establishes the characters, but the titular plot didn’t start until way after that. It was a gritty, realistic recreation that is a part of, but stands out from, the main story. Paris 05:59 is just like that except replace the D-day Invasion with a prolonged hardcore gay male orgy in a French sex dungeon. Stick with the film though; the opening is well-shot, well-choreographed, and titillating to be sure, but the really moving, thought provoking part of the film starts after Theo and Hugo have had their fun and left the club together.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.